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VESL Workshop: Using Music and Singing

  • VESL Workshop: Using Music and Singing

The following blog post was written by Katrina Derix-Langstraat, a faculty member at the School of Global Access. Katrina recently planned and facilitated a VESL workshop called Using Music and Songs.

Since 2005, VESL (the Volunteer ESL Tutor Training Project) has supported the professional development of volunteer ELL tutors throughout the city of Calgary. The project is funded by Calgary Learns and is the collaborative effort of three Calgary ELL service providers with long-standing volunteer programs: Bow Valley College, the Calgary Public Library, and the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. 

Earlier this week, 25 people attended a VESL workshop on using music and singing in the classroom. We explored the reasons why music is a valuable resource for language learning. Participants experienced firsthand several different kinds of language learning activities using music, singing, and chanting. We shared ideas on ways to extend and expand on the music-related activities.

One activity that participants enjoyed was doing a Listen and Grab activity with a song. This activity is well-suited to low level and literacy learners. To do this activity, spread the word cards out on a table for a group of 3 -4 learners. While a song is playing, learners listen and grab the word card for the words as they hear them. When the song is finished, the learner with the most cards is the winner. This reinforces their listening discrimination skills as well as their ability to connect oral language with printed words. For literacy learners, this is a great way to build a bank of sight words.

As an extension activity, learners can then take these cards and piece them together to recreate the lyrics (or maybe just the chorus) of the song from memory and listen to check. You could also play a version of “go fish” with this game to reinforce sight words, “do you have” questions/answers and pronunciation.

Here is a set of word cards to go with the song “All I Really Need “by Raffi. If you search the song on YouTube you will find a video that you can use with your learners. If you’d like to do this activity with a different song or listening to a story, just tab through the table and change the words.  

I hope the workshop helps volunteers feel more confident in their ability to use music, singing, and chanting with the learners they work with. Enjoy!